Getting to know the Irish fashion designers making waves with their coastal-inspired work
The compelling landscapes and vistas around our coast have inspired Irish designers to pay homage to its natural wonder and beauty, writes Bairbre Power
For most of us, a walk on a beach, skimming stones, or watching the white caps of crashing waves from the car on a blustery day is soothing salve for the soul.
For others, it is so much more and feeds their creativity. A growing number of Irish designers return time and time again to the coast for inspiration.
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Keira and Dairine Kennedy, the talented sisters behind the KDK lifestyle brand, grew up in Co Cork. Now based in Dublin with their families, the siblings continue to return to their Cork roots and their very popular ‘Sea’ silk twill tunic (pictured above) is based on a photograph Keira took in Oysterhaven, a sea inlet immediately to the east of Kinsale Harbour. The addition of a rippling frill down the sides adds a wave effect, which is very flattering to a tunic silhouette. They also wrap up memories of popular coastal places with digital prints on scarves in modal and silk/modal mix. One of my favourites is their ‘Poolbeg Chimneys’, an iconic landmark dear to the heart of so many Dubliners.
Colin Burke is one of a number of young emerging designers fortunate enough to live on the Wild Atlantic Way. Based in Galway, he photographed his beautiful knit for us on a sandy beach near Spiddal in Connemara, and he has been hugely influenced by his grandmother, who lived overlooking the sea in Co Sligo.
Like Colin, Sara O’Neill is part of the designer line-up at the new CREATE programme that opened in Brown Thomas last week and where Sara has introduced her ‘Róisín Dubh’ silk twill kimono (pictured right). Sara grew up on the coast road in Portrush and, after spending 15 years in Belfast attending art college, styling and illustrating, she moved back home when fate and romance merged. Big-wave surfer Al Mennie found Sara’s business card frozen in a puddle on the beach! They got in contact soon after that and, five years later, they are engaged to be married. Al kindly photographed Sara for us, back on the beach with their dog, Blyton.
Completing our coastal journey, scarf and tunic designer Susannagh Grogan is based in Killiney — and she can often be found literally on the water, as she skiff rows from Coliemore Harbour. Susannagh took up skiffing seven years ago and says it helps her to clear her head, that she never fails to come back with more ideas. Members of her women’s team kindly rowed out into Dalkey Sound for us to showcase Susannagh’s latest collection of ‘Sketchbook Passion’ silk scarves, available in a number of sizes.